In the classic Christian marriage ceremony, most ministers will quote an ancient passage from Genesis 2:24 (and referenced later in Matthew, Mark, and Ephesians) that reads,
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (English Standard Version).
Regardless of your level of spiritual maturity or faith, that can be pretty exciting – it gives the two of you a legal and moral freedom that you didn’t have before marriage.
The implications of two becoming one go far beyond the bedroom.
Based on his original design for marriage, the Old Testament author is saying that the two of you are no longer individuals, but are one unit, spiritually connected by the covenant you voluntarily enter into with your spouse and God. The consummation of that covenant on your wedding night is not even close to how far reaching this connection is.
Many of you are hoping to be married one day, are currently engaged, or perhaps already are married – so what does this “two shall become one” idea look like thousands of years later?
I got a reminder of just how deep “two shall become one” runs recently. It has been a rough 6 months or so at work. We’ve been growing like crazy and I’m doing my best to tread water to stay on top of what needs to get done. We’ve set solid boundaries so work doesn’t become our lives, but we need our releases. For me, that’s exercise.
So, when I pulled my calf and subsequently re-injured it trying to come back too quick, I resigned myself to cycling only for a few weeks. I had just one thing on my mind that day – a good, hard ride after work. I was also looking forward to shredding the trails on Saturday morning. When I realized my bike needed some maintenance and I wouldn’t be able to ride that evening, my mood soured.
When I tried to fix it and only made it worse, killing my chances of a weekend ride, my mood went straight down the toilet.
I didn’t yell, scream, and cuss. I didn’t take it out on my wife. What I did was quietly remove myself from the situation and stew on it. It didn’t help that I was trying to tackle other projects that I really needed help on as well, compounding my frustration.
I figured that since none of this was the fault of my Bride, there wasn’t anything she could do to help, and that I wasn’t taking it out on her, she’d be content to catch up on some Netflix and let my attitude run its course.
The longer I spent in the cave, shutting her out, the more upset she became. I didn’t really understand it – after all, it wasn’t her fault. What I failed to recognize is that we were one unit in my frustration about the bike as well. She knew it wasn’t her fault and there wasn’t anything she could do. But it was as if my right hand were working on the problem and telling my left hand it wasn’t needed.
All she really needed was to be included – to talk through what was going on, be reassured that I still loved her, and have the opportunity to encourage me. I certainly blew it.
“Two shall become one” isn’t just talking about the freedom you have in marriage to enjoy one another.
It means that your individual strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, even joys and frustrations now belong to the two of you as one unit. The benefits you gain from the covenant of marriage also bond in you in every other facet of life.
It’s not natural for us to think and live like this, but it is the way God designed marriage and it is very good. What initially feels like an invasion of your privacy and a burden will begin to be lifted as you recognize you don’t have to carry your burdens alone and you have someone to share every joy with.
“Two shall become one” really means there isn’t anything that can affect only one of you.
The good news is that it’s not up to either one of you on your own to determine the direction or attitude of your marriage. When one is down, the other can encourage. When one is joyful, the other can celebrate with them.
Most importantly, no matter what you are experiencing as one flesh, you still point each other to Christ for forgiveness where you are weak and fail. You point each other to Christ for the strength and desire to extend love, grace, and mercy to each other in every situation. He will be perfectly faithful and as you grow closer to him, you will grow closer to each other.